Wellington Bake Off!

Yay! Finally here! Although, to be honest, I wasn't a fan of the category. It was decorated biscuits. Of course, I like biscuits, BUT I'd never done decorated biscuits and never done royal icing before. I was considering quite a few different things, but I wanted to more conservative and try to do something really well, rather than something complicated and stuffing it up. When dad suggested emoticons I thought it was a really good idea and pretty simple to do so I went with that. I guess if I had my time over again I might try something a little more involved, maybe a filled biscuit? I'd also probably put a bit more time into presentation, it's definitely something that I need to work on. They tasted good and they looked good, very neat and well done I thought, but they weren't as flashy or intense as some of the others. So unfortunately I didn't win, but the woman who did had hers hanging off a tree, so that looked pretty damn cool! Becca and I did win being the youngest bakers there, so that was nice. :) I think mine possibly would have appealed more to a younger panel of judges because the judges were more around my parents' ages and I kind of had to explain the theme to them, that it wasn't just smiley faces but that they were sitting on an iPhone for a reason! Oh well, it hasn't deterred me from baking, I'll just have to put in more effort next time! They did taste good, a nice simple biscuit so if you're looking for something a little different, then here it is! :)

PS: The reason behind the name is that there is an application on iPhone that is really common and it's called Emoji. It gives you lots of cool emoticons to use in messaging etc. So we went with the tech-themed name!

Emoji Cookies

300g butter, softened
225g icing sugar
225g cornflour
300g plain flour
1t vanilla essence

3 cups icing sugar
2T meringue powder
8-10T water

1 cup icing sugar
1/2T meringue powder
2-4T water
75g chocolate bits

Gel food colouring (I used yellow and black)

Preheat the oven to 150°C and line a baking sheet. Cream together the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla essence. Sift in the cornflour and plain flour and mix all togther with a wooden spoon until it comes together as a dough. Knead for 5-10 minutes or until you can work with the dough. Roll out the dough on a flour surface to whatever your desired thickness is. If you're doing some sort of decorated biscuit, I'd recommend about 2cm. Then take whatever circular object you have on hand (I used a plastic glass) and cut circles out of the dough. Place on the baking sheet, pull the leftover dough together and then roll out and cut again. Repeat until there's no dough left. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until they're just brown on the bottom. Cool completely.

Pipe a circle around the outside with the royal icing. Then thin the icing by adding tablespoons of water until the icing disappears back into the mixture after 10 seconds of dropping it back on top. Flood the cookies with the icing. You do this by pouring maybe half the area of the circle on top of the biscuit and then spreading it with a palette knife or the back of a spoon, right to the edges of the piped circle so that there are no gaps. You have to do this well in advance of when you need the biscuits, because the icing will take at least 3 hours to dry, I left mine overnight.

It would be a good idea to either print or draw some pictures of emoticons to have as a reference whilst icing. Use the black (chocolate) royal icing to make the faces and be creative! I did lots of different ones and it was really fun to experiment. This icing dries faster, so you only need maybe an half an hour afterwards to leave it to dry. Or not even. Just eat them.

Royal Icing:
Mix all ingredients (second group) on low speed for 7-10 minutes or until the icing loses its shine. Add more water by the teaspoon if it appears too stiff. At this stage you want to be able to pipe it easily. Once you have it at a good consistency, add the yellow (or whatever colour) gel food colouring. Beat until coloured, which can take maybe 3/4t of colour to get it really yellow enough for a face.

Chocolate Royal Icing:
Melt the chocolate at a reduced power in the microwave for 2-3 minutes and then whist until smooth. Add the black (or whatever colour-but I used black because it's easy to colour something black when it's already brown!) food colouring and whisk until all the chocolate is completely black. This will take maybe 1/2t. Then put the icing sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix together with the chocolate until incorporated. Add the water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the mixture is a little thinner that the yellow one used for around the outside, but thick enough to pipe easily. Mix until the icing again loses its shine. Then you're ready to pipe!

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